As of Tuesday, July 19, 2016
GRANGEVILLE Already faced with felonies for a series of area burglaries, a Grangeville man faces unrelated new charges for allegedly stealing explosives from an Idaho Transportation Department work site last fall.
As a result of this, the state agency has changed procedures to better track and secure such hazardous materials in the future.
Barry R. Kretschmer, 34, is set for a preliminary hearing next Tuesday, July 26, on charges of burglary, grand theft, and unlawful possession of a bomb or destructive device. Meanwhile, he is set for a hearing today, July 20, on felony charges regarding a June stolen firearms case in Cottonwood, and an Aug. 15 sentencing for alleged storage locker thefts committed Feb. 3 in Grangeville.
Between Sept. 1 to Oct. 31, 2015, according to court records and information from detectives with the Idaho County Sheriff’s Office, Kretschmer is alleged to have taken 20 sticks of Dyno AP 24 blasting material and one spool each of detonation cord and lead line from the back of an ITD pickup at a job site on State Highway 14, and put it in his vehicle.
Kretschmer worked for ITD as a maintenance technician at the time, according to ITD communication manager Vince Trimboli. He was not directly handling the blasting materials, according to Trimboli, but was “part of the crew using explosives to reduce rocks and help in removal of that rock debris.”
Earlier this spring, according to Hewson, Kretschmer allegedly brought the materials to a Grangeville man, Mark Scheurman, to make a deal to sell them. Scheurman knew Kretschmer had worked for ITD, and a week later, on April 11, Scheurman spoke to ITD supervisor David Frasier regarding the materials and brought them to the agency’s shop on the Grangeville truck route.
Trimboli said Kretschmer is no longer employed by ITD; however, as this is a personnel matter he could not elaborate further.
“We want make sure the public is safe, and when we found out about this, immediately we told the authorities,” Trimboli said, and recovered the blasting materials. Following, ITD reviewed its process for handling these materials and “We feel we’ve made changes in how they are tracked and managed so this doesn’t happen again.” Due to security issues and the potential to increase the risk of other threats, he did not elaborate on that process or subsequent changes.
According to Trimboli and ITD public involvement coordinator Adam Rush, blasting materials are used mostly on rock that have fallen on state highways, or are in danger of falling, to reduce them to manageable sizes for removal by conventional equipment and fit within a dump truck.
“This is something we’ve done for a long time,” Trimboli said, “and we have people trained to do it.”
These blasting materials are “definitely safe to transport to the job site,” he said, and several components are required to blast it. “It’s not something you’d drop and it would explode.” Use of this in rock reduction is a science based on many factors – “There’s no one prescription for it,” he said – but he did give a recent example of a truck-sized boulder that required 29 such sticks for reduction.
“Through our system checks and balance this is the first time this has happened,” Trimboli said, for ITD overall in the state, adding they hadn’t heard of any instances like this in any of its districts.